Taking on the theme “Invisible Cities”, Light to Night Festival 2020 takes us through a reimagination of our historic Civic District. Over the next two weekends, visitors are invited to experience programmes and artworks that evolve from day to night. We headed down to the Civic District a couple of nights ago for a sneak peek at some highlights. What we discovered was that this year’s Festival places much emphasis artful play and playful art for young and old.
P/S. As the Festival organisers were kind enough to let us in on some ‘secrets’, we’ve turned them into playful quests for you and your family. No prizes to be won, but more reasons to have fun!
Art Skins on Monuments: City States of Mind
The biggest façade light show in Singapore, Art Skins on Monuments transforms the Civic District into imaginary cities. There are eight projection-mapping pieces presented across seven surfaces. You’ll find three of them at The Arts House, Asian Civilisations Museum, Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall. The other four are scattered around the National Gallery Singapore — City Hall and Former Supreme Court façade, Gallery sidewall, UOB City Hall Courtyard, and of course, the City Hall façade.
As always, the Padang is the perfect spot for you to set up a picnic, while enjoying the panoramic view of the light projection on the City Hall façade across the street. And it gets better. You can customise your own cityscape and watch it jump to life in front of your eyes. Simply scan the QR code with your mobile phone, make a few whimsical selections, and voila! It’s a lot of fun and everyone in the family can contribute to this living mural.
Zone A: National Gallery Singapore + Padang
The Padang is essentially a giant grassy paradise where you can let the kids run free for a bit. You can be sure that they’ll run straight into the playfully welcoming Optical Maze. It’s one of the dual experiences triggered by the shift from day to night, a Festival first. By day, it’s a golden-hued pavilion. As the sun sets, it transforms into a colourful labyrinth that changes as you explore its paths.
Quest #1: The top of the Optical Maze hides a secret message that can only be read from above. We found the perfect viewing spot. Can you?
For a blast of air-conditioning, head into the Gallery’s Padang Atrium, where you’ll immediately be captivated by Floating City. Suspended from above, this dream-like city is another day-to-night installation that you’ll have to see twice for the full experience. In the evenings, its colours and intensity even respond to performances taking place in the Padang Atrium. These include Funny Fridays featuring local comedians like Suhaimi Yusof, and Symphonic Saturdays with the likes of Tabitha Nauser.
When sensory overload hits, head to the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium Anteroom on Level B1. Dawn-Joy Leong, an autistic autism researcher and multi-disciplinary artist, invites you to take refuge in her personal sensory wonderland. She calls it Clement Space, and it’s inspired by her psychiatric assistance dog, Lucy Like-a-Charm. This was definitely one of our favourite spots during the media tour!
Zone B: The Arts House + Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall
Head over to The Arts House and discover open books: The Worlds of Haruki Murakami. Two colourful dioramas inspired by ‘Kafka on the Shore’ and ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ beckon you into their fantastical landscapes. No, we mean it. Step in and truly immerse in these literal ‘open books’.
And this is only the appetiser of Prologue 2020, an annual festival organised in conjunction with Light to Night Festival. Check out its programme schedule for poetry dramatisations, film screenings, listening parties, and more. Book sales curated by Booktique and Closetful of Books will also be popping up on the two weekends respectively.
Right next door is the elegant Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, which will host a series of musical performances. From string quartets to accordion duos, there’s something for everyone. We got to witness a small sample of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra Percussion Ensemble’s Sonic Journeys, and can’t wait to see the rest of it. Kids aged 11 to 18 years making an audio-visual spectacle of themselves and their ‘instruments’ — super fun!
Zone C: Asian Civilisations Museum + Singapore River
Embark on more magical journeys at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Experience life in a port city via a multi-sensory tour in the dark, led by Dialogue in the Dark. Sand artist Tan Sock Fong will also be on hand with an enchanting performance. The kids can create hand-drawn postcards of their dream city in an artist-led workshop, then dip their arms into vibrant UV paint for a psychedelic glowing effect.
Zone D: Esplanade Park + Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Experience the smoke and mirrors as you navigate Between Two Worlds at Esplanade Park. See reflections of a ‘new’ Civic District juxtaposed against the heritage angsana trees. Mirrored memory pools guide you into a pathway into anther world. You’ll seemingly disappear into it only to emerge somewhere else…
On the fringe of Esplanade Park is a series of stationary bicycles in an installation called Light Lane. Hop on and pedal your way through invisible cities, complete with sounds and sights beyond Singapore. There are bikes for kids too, so you can cycle as a family. It’s like a spin class on steroids and yes, effects can vary, depending on whether it’s day or night.
Of course, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay will be hosting loads of live music performances. The place to be is the Esplanade Forecourt Garden near Jubilee Bridge.
Art x Social (Festival Village)
And no festival is complete without a festival village. Art x Social is back in a big way, spanning the pedestrianised St Andrew’s Road and Connaught Drive, before spilling onto Empress Lawn. Gather over lobster rolls, roast beef and truffle mash, mochi ice cream and much, much more. The best of Singapore’s F&B entrepreneurs will be on site, so you can refuel between all the exploring. There will also be craft stalls promoting sustainability, along with live music performances and life-sized games. Oh, and do say hi to Molly, a mobile library bus who brings National Library books to you. Art x Social happens from 6pm to 11pm on 10, 11, 17 and 18 January.
Quest #2: Speaking of life-sized games, here’s your second quest. Remember the game Five Stones? Keep your eyes peeled for giant inflatable versions scattered around Empress Place. Introduce your kids to this retro game and see who finds all five first!
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to experience at Light to Night Festival 2020, from installations and performances to activities, talks and tours. There’s even a live-action escape game experience happening at National Gallery Singapore, but tickets have already all been snapped up. Next year, perhaps? In the meantime, visit www.lighttonight.sg to make sure you don’t miss anything else!
Light to Night Festival 2020
When 10 – 19 January, 10am – midnight
Where Civic District (National Gallery Singapore, The Arts House, Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, Asian Civilisations Museum, Esplanade Park, Esplanade − Theatres on the Bay, Empress Lawn, St Andrew’s Cathedral)